Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Wednesday, February 20, 2019





Book Review

BOOK REVIEW

Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction / Cultural
502 pages
Published by Grand Central Publishing
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Goodreads Rating


BOOK BLURB:

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant--and that her lover is married--she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son's powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan's finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee's complex and passionate characters--strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis--survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.

MY THOUGHTS:

This was, quite simply, one the most memorable books I have ever read (right up there with The Kite Runner)!

It's an extraordinary novel about perception, prejudice and above all, the resiliency of women and the loyalty of their family.  Even though this is a Korean-Japanese historical fiction, make no mistake, the emotional impact is universal... 

The story spans over 7 decades and it tells the epic saga of a Korean family in Japan.  The author managed to provide us with such a rich cultural experience.  I had no idea that Ethnic Koreans born in Japan were not Japanese citizens and were under constant threat of deportation (I don't know what the current state in Japan is), so the book was also a reminder that discrimination and prejudice are present everywhere (Ugh!). 

Even the book's opening line is profound enough as to warn you to be prepared for the masterpiece you're about to read:
“History has failed us, but no matter.” 

The character development is flawless in his book.  The psychology of each character is detailed in such a way that it drew me closer to understanding their angst and suffering.  It's also very interesting how the author touched so many different topics: disability, pregnancy, shame, suicide, hope, organized crime, wealth...that were somehow linked to the main theme, which was search of identity and acceptance.

“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage” 

Can we talk about the title now?  
Pachinko is the name of a very popular arcade game in Japan.  By comparison, life is a game of chance, and just like a pinball machine, it can spin you out of control and randomly drop you in different situations...

“Sunja-ya, a woman’s life is endless work and suffering. There is suffering and then more suffering. It’s better to expect it, you know. You’re becoming a woman now, so you should be told this. For a woman, the man you marry will determine the quality of your life completely. A good man is a decent life, and a bad man is a cursed life—but no matter what, always expect suffering, and just keep working hard. No one will take care of a poor woman—just ourselves.”

This book is also on the #SOMAbookclub list for 2019.  

While reading this book, I had both the paperback book and the audiobook from the library, which I used to go back and forth.  Do you ever do that?

10 comments:

  1. Kobe ate my copy of this one from Paris! I still haven't gotten over it, but the author saw it on twitter and sent me another copy...the nicest thing ever!! I can't wait to read this one.

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    Replies
    1. Oh no!!! That was VERY nice of her!
      I can't wait to read her other book: Free Food for Millionaires 📘

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  2. Kicking myself for passing this one by! Lovely review

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  3. This books is quite prolific. Thanks for the great review.
    Gemma @ www.gemmasbooknook.blogspot.com

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  4. I’ve heard only good things about this one. 💙

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  5. Looks good, not heard of the book before. Great review.

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  6. this looks and sounds so wonderful.. will look for it

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